COVID-19 Impact on the Food Supply Chain: Solutions for Food Service

April 23, 2020

COVID-19 Impact on the Food Supply Chain: Solutions for Food Service

Authors: QProducts & Services Food & Beverage Team, Under the Direction of Kevin Lynch and Stephen Wozniak


The direct connection between farms and restaurants has been severely impacted, as many restaurants have had to close their doors, only offering curbside pickup. There is a widespread transition taking place in which the focus has shifted from providing to restaurants to providing for grocery stores and homes. To adjust to the current situation, some farmers and producers have closed or altered their operations. Food service fleets including Sysco, U.S. Foods, and Gordon Food Service are being utilized to replenish retail grocery. Also, food service supply companies are now selling to individuals through home delivery. As a food service distributor or food manufacturer, there are supply chain solutions to help you navigate this increased demand.

us foods during covid19

Food Suppliers Pivot Their Distribution


The major distribution firms that supply the food service business have taken a number of steps to deal with the situation. For example, Sysco stated that they are actively pursuing new sources of revenue by leveraging their supply chain expertise to provide services to the retail grocery sector. Furthermore, a partnership is being formed between the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) and the FMI-Food Industry Association. According to Food Management, the arrangement encourages foodservice distributors that have excess capacity in terms of products and/or transportation and warehousing services to assist food retailers and wholesalers that require additional resources to fulfill needs at grocery stores, which are experiencing skyrocketing demand.


For home delivery, Sysco has announced it has launched Sysco@HOME, a convenient solution allowing consumers to purchase restaurant-quality grocery items from the comfort of their own home.


U.S. Foods is also proceeding with a similar strategy. Chairman and CEO Pietro Satriano stated, “We are exploring new ways that U.S. Foods can leverage our business capabilities during this challenging time, including starting to sell some of our inventory to retail outlets like grocery stores and temporarily contracting some of our distribution workforce to companies experiencing a spike in demand.”

home food delivery during covid19


Supply Chain Food Packaging Solutions


As organizations work tirelessly to meet the increased demands placed upon the food industry, there are solutions to protect temperature-sensitive food shipments.


The ThermaPak® is a proven solution designed for the distribution of frozen and refrigerated food items. It is used as an economic and environmentally friendly alternative to dry ice and gel packs . At QProducts and Services, we engineered the ThermaPak® to retain product freshness for extended periods of time, regardless of external temperatures.


“Yesterday we had a refrigerated unit go down on a trailer and had to bring it back for a reload. The route had 20 cases of ice cream on it. Four of the cases of ice cream were in a ThermaPak® with no dry ice and the remaining sixteen were in an older soft side bag from a competitor with dry ice sprinkled in. The 4 cases in the ThermaPak® were still frozen when the truck arrived and the 16 in the older bags had begun to soften to the point that they could not be saved. Definitely a testament to the quality of your product,” stated the Vice President of Operations at a Leading Food Service Distributor. Learn more about how this Florida based food service distributor improved ice cream delivery practices using ThermaPak®.

thermapak for temperature sensitive shipments


Passive Temperature Protection Versus Active Temperature Protection


Passive temperature protection does not require the need for a power supply, while active temperature protection does. Our ThermaPak® solution works by passive temperature protection, ensuring quality, safety, and efficacy of temperature-sensitive products within a pre-defined range. In addition, passive temperature protection solutions provide added flexibility in areas of your network where refrigerated capacity is limited and/or comes with a high premium.  .


Furthermore, passive temperature protection can complement active temperature protection by creating the ability to combine frozen and fresh in a single temperature compartment.  Given the current global and economic state, it’s important to have a packaging solution that can adapt to your needs.   With passive temperature protection, you have more options to cost-effectively transport your food items regardless of the quantity.


At QProducts & Services, our team was able to engineer the Cap and Wrap PalletQuilt® for simple combo loading. It would hold the integrity of frozen items, such as ice cream, shipped on a refrigerated trailer set at 36°F. Learn more about how this solution can extend the life of your fleet, increase operational flexibility, and cut costs.


monitoring temperature of food

Final Thoughts


As we move forward through these changing times, we realize many manufacturers are in a position where they need to adapt and evolve to the current disruption. Some food supply chains are adapting daily. As Civil Eats stated, “every single day is something new.”


Our team of temperature protection experts at QProducts and Services is here to provide solutions to fit your adapting food supply chain. We hope this information was insightful, and we encourage you to reach out to us should you have any questions or inquiries on the solutions we can provide.